Home Improvement, Fix-It Tips, Sustainability and More!


Today we are working on our sixth storm damage job from severe weather that rolled through a couple weeks ago.  From downed trees to downed fences to missing shingles… We’ve had a bit of everything!


Sunken Living Room

We started a project today at a home that has a 320 sq ft sunken living room.
  The concern was injury from flalling because of an unexpected step down that no one expects!
  We first had to determine the depth we needed to raise the floor and decided to start with  2×4 framing.


We laid out the floor like you would lay out a framed stud wall but also used concrete screws to insure movement would be limited.


After framing the floor, we used decking adhesive and installed 3/4 inch decking.


After the decking, we added another layer of 1/2 inch OSB and it was also glued down.  This added strength and got us to the correct height.
  Personally I was thinking of installing a goldfish pond and a fountain, but they would lose their living room…. Oh well… It was a good thought…
  Stay tuned… Tomorrow we install laminate flooring on top of the new decking!

Changing out a Ballast

It looks like a real mess but it is actually pretty much connecting color to color.


The only real trick is making for certain that the power is off and buying the correct ballast.
  As long as you know the type and number of bulbs in your light, you are good to go!

  How do you know if your ballast is out?
If you replace all the bulbs with new ones and you have power in the black wire powering the ballast… You almost for sure have a bad ballast!  (If the white common line is broken or disconnected you will not have power either, but that is extremely rare)

Happy wiring!  And be safe…

Staining your Deck

Most decks will last for many years if properly taken care of.  This deck is a few years old and we just gave it a new coat of deck paint.


When you decide to re-finish your deck, there are a couple things to keep in mind…
First, it needs to be realy clean and free from any loose paint and dirt.
Decide if you want to stain the deck or use a solid color.  Going with a solid color us always easier because it can better hide any imperfections.
   Staining the deck is a bit trickier because you want a consistent look throughout.  If you are going to stain, it is best to make that decision when the deck is first built.  It is extremely difficult if not impossible to go back to a stain after it is painted a solid color.
   Before we paint or stain, we go over the entire deck (or gazibo) and knick off every piece of loose paint, chips of wood and debris we can find… Then we hit the entire deck with a pressure washer, taking care to wash WITH the grain of the wood.
  Let it dry overnight and paint away.  In most cases you will want to apply 2 thick coats.
  Another thing to note… If you are staining a very old deck, be prepared to use twice or more as much paint or stain than what is recommended… It really soaks it up!

More tips to come!
Happy Staining!

Rotted Floor

If you ever detect soft spots in your floor, it pays to investigate and find what is causing the problem…


In this case, we found a lot of mold and just plain grossness under the top layer of flooring!  It was a very good thing that the house was vacant at the time, because the repairs were extensive.


The entire floor ended up being replaced, new decking was installed and new industrial tile was added


The finished product was not too bad, some of the glue oozed up as it was walked on because the very cold conditions did not allow it to dry for a while, but a little cleaning remedied that problem and it cured after a couple days.

Always check when there may be a problem!!

Sometimes You Just Have to Get Dirty

A “p” trap is notorious


collecting clumps of waste…  This particular one was clogged with carrot skin!


Simply knowing how to twist off a couple of fittings could have saved this person a service call..
  All you need is a pair of channel locks and a strong stomach!
  Remember… Being informed can save a lot of money!  5 people could have had a nice dinner out with the savings…


Rotted Floor Repair

We repaired this rotted floor in a house in Fort Worth.  Water head started leaking under the toilet where a previous contractor had added flooring without removing the toilet.

Starting tearout

The toilet not being removed when the new floor was installed acted like a dam and caused the leaking water to run between the original floor and the newer subfloor without anyone knowing anything about it until the floor started buckling!

Kilz on top

We removed the toilet, cleaned out everything that was rotted or damp, sprayed it down with stain blocker primer (in this case Kilz), then built the floor back up level.


The end result was as if it had never happened!   It’s good to really watch the people you hire to make sure they are properly doing their job, do some research and look to see if they’re following industry standards…


“Happy Cleaning”

-Scott McDonald

Platform for a Storage Shed



Leveled out some concrete blocks and put 4×4 treated beams down.  I used 2×3 fence runners spaced one foot apart to support the decking because I used 1/2 inch OSB for the floor

I used OSB instead of treated wood because I have it built up well off the ground and plan to install some metal skirting in the near future.


This Rubbermade shed is 6 years old and it’s the 3rd time I have moved it.   The shed is holding up very well with the only signs of age being a little warping from the extreme North Texas heat.

“Happy Decking!”

Sink Leak

Looking under a sink a few days ago, I found this….


A slow leak had caused the fitting to gradually rust then break.   This is a very easy fix, so below I added a photo of what the parts look like that are needed to make the repair…


In our case,  and in most cases, you do not need to buy the tailpiece, which is the white pipe.  The slip nut can be plastic or in some cases you can use metal as well.  (this only applies to the slip nut that attaches to the bottom of the strainer)

Make sure everything is very clean, remove the tailpiece and slip on the new nut, lay the tailpiece washer in place and tighten HAND TIGHT!!  Check all your slip nuts under the sink and make sure they are snug then test your water and look for leaks…

If water is coming from above the tailpiece washer….you have a whole ‘nother problem and a whole ‘nother blog!!

Happy Plumbing!

Amazing Rat Hole

I had no Idea “Tom and Jerry” was for real!!

I inserted my inspection camera under some cabinets and took a picture of this perfectly made mouse hole!!


Pretty amazing!  It was about 3 inches across… the rats had done quite a lot of damage, but we filled these and hopefully there are no more!


Happy Mouse Hunting!

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